The year 2016 has been a busy one for North Korea and one that should be much more than a blip on the radar for U.S. leaders and citizens concerned about the very real threat a nuclear North Korea represents. In fact, since January of 2016, North Korea has made both subtle and overt threats against South Korea and the United States in addition to conducting several tests of nuclear weapons.
The Nuclear Threat of North Korea
Within the last month, however, the rhetoric has escalated with North Korea going so far as to warn citizens of an approaching famine on March 31. The same report goes on to mention Kim John Un’s desire to strike American soil with nuclear weapons.
The current belief is that he is putting his money where his mouth is by redirecting funds to feed his people into nuclear weaponry, weapons’ testing, and warhead development in an attempt to build a nuclear missile capable of reaching the continental United States.
In early January, The Nation reported that North Korea announced that they had successfully detonated a hydrogen bomb in an effort to protect the sovereignty of the country in response to a continuously growing nuclear threat and blackmail from forces lead by a hostile United States. The action was immediately protested by nearby countries of South Korea, Japan, and China and is in direct violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
Then, further increasing tensions with the U.S. North Korea announced the arrest of American student, Otto Frederick Warmbier, from University of Virginia for “hostile acts” against the state of North Korea claiming Warmbier had entered North Korea for the purpose of destroying the country’s unity.
Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor on March 16 – an act the U.S. State Department claims is unduly harsh and does not fit the crime Warmbier was accused of.
Most Recent Threats from North Korea
Fast forward to April – a time when the U.S. and South Korean militaries get together and conduct joint exercises. North Korea takes exception to this every year. This year, they responded rather overtly with the firing of a ballistic missile, launched from a submarine according to an April, 24 CNN Report. The report goes on to discuss that while this launch was a technical failure that it is an important step in the learning process for the nation who has already announced intentions to launch nuclear weapons on mainland USA.
Then North Korea puzzled everyone by offering to halt nuclear tests, per Fox News, if the U.S. ends the joint exercises with South Korea. Something North Korea knows the U.S. is unlikely to do in light of these types of demands and actions. Especially when considering that on April 26 North Korea was reportedly preparing for yet another nuclear test – its fifth. Then, on April 27, there was an alarming report from his father’s former sushi chef that the Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un claims Un fires missiles when the U.S. aggravates him.
So, what does it all mean?
Perhaps the first concern is the overt aggression being displayed by Un towards both South Korea and the U.S. Then there is the fact that the tests are consistent and appear to be escalating. Then there are very real concerns over Un’s mental state.
Obviously he is preparing North Korean citizens for the possibility of prolonged war and famine that is often associated with it, while spending large sums of money beefing up weapons clearly intended for offensive purposes. No nation defends itself with nukes unless you’re counting the Mutually Assured Destruction aspect of nuclear weaponry as defense.
The problem is that Un doesn’t value the lives of his citizens or the image he projects to the world in quite the same way that other world leaders do. He may be just the leader to consider this type of first strike believing that the repercussions wouldn’t actually touch him.
What it means is that America needs to be watching much more closely than we appear to be as this is one very real threat to national security. As we are in an election year, it is more important, than perhaps any time in recent history, to choose a leader who is prepared to deal with the threat North Korea represents.